Samrica & Joerica // Indoor Christmas Mini Portrait Session, Hope Community Church // Cottage Grove, MN
When Samrica reached out desiring a portrait session so that she could send photos back to her hubby in Africa for their anniversary, my heart melted and I was absolutely for it and promptly squeezed them in to a busy Thanksgiving week. Then, when she requested to take their mini portrait session photos at our church, I was at first a bit nervous, but excited when I walked in the doors and saw the amazing volunteers decorating for Christmas. We moved some items around and had ourselves a very Merry Christmas mini shoot!
Meet Case Branum, a Park High School senior. When his mom reached out for his senior portraits, she mentioned that he loves nature so we definitely went to Lake Rebecca Park and Old MIll Park in Hastings, MN for his senior photos. Case is a natural in front of the camera and we had a great time hanging out, even though it was rather chilly -- but not as quite as chilly as it had been the few days before his senior shoot.
Meet Noah Kirsch, a Park High School senior and active student within our church's youth group. Noah is awesome and we so appreciate all the help he is with our boys -- they both ask for him by name and excitedly squeal when they see him coming! He's one of the regular people Ethan prays for at bedtime even, so when Noah reached out to ask if we could take his senior photos, we definitely were going to find a spot for him! His senior portrait session was a bit chilly but you wouldn't notice by the smile on this guy's face and his can-do attitude. He even at one point, switched shirts outside the vehicle and I seriously shivered in my winter coat just thinking about the idea.
“Just wait,” Alex said after Ariel asked if they would get going soon. They were sitting on a bench at Afton State Park and Alex was working up the courage to propose to Ariel. She had remarked about how peaceful of a spot it was so he knew this was the perfect moment as they loved to hike together. He had finally worked up the courage, popped down on one knee and was about to put on the ring when an older woman walked by and took her sweet time enjoying all the flowers so once they were alone again, he put the ring on Ariel’s finger and made it official. We laughed that during a candid portrait set in their engagement session at Afton State Park, a gentleman walked right through their photo instead of walking around them – interrupting the moment like the older lady had all over again. Speaking of their engagement session, we laughed so hard and had so much fun with these two! We can’t wait for their wedding next year!
The guests were hanging on every word. The bride’s dad held the microphone loosely as he shared story after story and detail after detail about the lovely couple before him – you would think that he was mostly sharing his pride for his beautiful daughter but at the end of his speech, he took a sudden turn and talked about the family the bride, Andrea, was marrying into. “They’re such a perfect match family-wise and we are so blessed,” he said and soon, the groom, Charles, was in tears, his mother was on tips of tears smiling in the direction of her son, and the bridesmaids were asking each other for tissues. We are always up for destination weddings and the chance to enjoy a road trip or travel so when Charles and Andrea reached out to us about being their wedding photographers, we were all in! Heading to photograph their beautiful wedding day at Usher's Ferry in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was amazing -- and what was even better is that it was about 20 degrees warmer there then in our hometown of Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
Meet Ethan, a Park High School senior! We met up at Woodbridge Park in Cottage Grove for his senior portrait sessions and he showed me the trails above the coolest kid park I know -- definitely have to go exploring there again!
Talk about #TransformationTuesday! Say hello again to the Ogren Family! I've had the privilege of documenting this amazing family the past few years (here's a link to last years'). This past year, Bethany decided to change some things in her family's diet and you can see the difference! Way to go! It was so great to get to hang out with the Ogren's for their family portraits this year on our mini session evening. We spent our time hanging out at The Old Mill Park in Hastings -- super close to Vermillion Falls, but a hidden gem in terms of how many people drop by!
When Jim & Michele pulled into the parking lot, there was a very sleepy child in the backseat, so we walked a few steps away to capture a few photos of just the two (well, three) of them before pulling Austin out from his sleepy slumber! Austin definitely was having a hard time waking up and was pretty straight faced at first -- that was until I said the magic word: "ninja." He instantly lit up and smiled at me. Ninja? Yup! Austin loves this word and is always wanting to show our oldest how to be a ninja and teach him some ninja moves.
Josh is probably one of Deacon's favorite people. Even this last week when we pulled up to church, when Josh stepped out of the car, Deacon made undetectable squeals of joy and pointed in his direction. We first met Josh five years ago when we started at Hope Community Church -- he was much shorter then. It's been a pleasure to watch him grow both physically and maturely these past few years and even more of a pleasure to get to hang out for his senior portraits in Hastings!
We're currently on the road traveling in rainy weather to tomorrow's wedding but couldn't hold this fun engagement session to ourselves any longer! Meet Rachael and Andrew. These two showed us one of their summer date night traditions by taking us to Vino in the Valley for their engagement session. We can see why they love it -- especially in all of the gorgeous fall weather and colors!
We always say that we work hard to make our bride and grooms as comfortable as possible on their wedding day and we work hard specifically in the wedding portrait posing to make it feel natural and full of laughter. Mark reached a new level of making this happen when he accidentally touched a live electric fence during Jolene and David’s bride and groom portraits at Terra Nue Farm a few weeks ago. We immediately all burst out into laughter (sorry, Mark) and it was the running joke the rest of the day about how Mark’s hand was still numb. Needless to say, even with all the excitement, the horse in the background at this point still didn’t acknowledge our existence – another funny moment of us making any and every animal sound and movement to try to get its attention but it stubbornly looked in the other direction!
Any session that involves a pause to play with two adorable eight-week-old puppies is a plus in my book. Getting to hang out with Sanna and her mom at Highlands Park in Cottage Grove for her senior portraits? Even better. This girl is so sweet! She definitely seems like the type of girl you'd want to have as a lifelong friend -- confident in who she is, compassionate to the people and things around her, easy to talk to, enjoys playing or watching sports, and all about animals (especially cats and llamas). We spent most of the shoot walking, talking, and joking about how we were also getting our step count in!
Star Wars or Star Trek starcraft? That was the first big interaction between these two. While they had met in a communication class at Crown College as they were fellow Communication majors, this was the first time they first struck a personal conversation -- at least however personal you can get online over a Facebook status. Alan was on the side of Star Wars but Kaylyn soon commented that he was choosing wrong and needed to go for the Star Trek option. This simple conversation that started online soon developed into a beautiful friendship and relationship offline -- making these two inseparable. Kaylyn says that they love to spend time outdoors with each other but that Alan is definitely more of the outdoor enthusiast than her. Having an outdoor and small, intimate wedding at the gazebo at Chaska City Square Park was an easy decision for these two. When we talked about being their husband and wife wedding photographer team, Kaylyn shared that they had gone here on a photography outing when they were just friends. One of them were taking the class and the other came along for the ride. At one point, Kaylyn was sitting on a bench and Alan tried to sneak a picture of her but she totally busted him -- you'll see the exact bench in a photo below.
Is this family not the cutest? We met up at Hasting’s beautiful Lake Rebecca Park for their September family portrait mini session. I love how fall creates so many fun opportunities to work with amazing families like this! Little Everly and Henry were so cute and did amazingly well with all of the fun distractions like water, geese, and sticks around. In fact, we “rewarded” Henry with sticks to throw into the water from time to time with how well he was doing – oh the simple pleasures of little boys! Everly definitely was a bit ounsure of me and my large camera at the beginning but soon warmed up and even let her parents parents, Levi and Jenna, take a few photos by themselves before the end of our time together.
When I asked Kristina where she would like to shoot her and Adam’s mini portrait session in Hastings, her first response was LeDuc Historic Estates because one of her favorite sessions we did was a 60thwedding anniversary session there. (It’s one of my favorites, too, Kristina!)
Meet Zoe, a super cool Park High School senior! We met up to take her senior portraits in downtown Hastings on a warm 88-degree fall night. You never know with September what the temperatures will be! We finished the session taking off our shoes and stepping into the cool water at the Old Mill.
I’m not sure where to begin with Trav and Samantha’s in-home lifestyle portrait session in Newport, MN. How about the minute we got back in the car, Mark said, “I could see ourselves hanging out with them often -- they’re so cool”? He wasn’t just talking about Trav and Samantha’s adorable dogs, Hunter & Lilly, either (who we definitely spent most of the time playing with).
We love this dear family! We met the Wongs a little over two years ago when we just had Ethan and they had little Abigail. Ethan and Abigail immediately hit it off when we met them at our church, Hope Community Church, and then Ethan and I bumped into Lori and Abigail at the Cottage Grove library's storytime in the next few weeks. Since then we've added more kiddos to the families and stopping right now to look back at how we've all grown since we first met is definitely something to be grateful for.
We love to get together with the Griffiths! We had set aside a time for them to come hang out recently at our new home and then take their photos, but the day of was gloomy and very rainy so instead we had all our boys nap and enjoyed some adult conversations from the comfort of our couches – setting aside a new day to shoot their family portraits at the beautiful Mount Normandale Lake in Bloomington (a good halfway point for each of us).
We didn’t realize we’d fall in love with so many aspects about being a photographer and one of the best parts is how you get to walk alongside someone in life. We love people, so the opportunity to serve and love on people is a huge honor. But, the opportunity to come alongside a family and watch the family grow from year-to-year is an even bigger honor!
It was breathtakingly beautiful. I had never seen so many Monarch butterflies in one spot and they all took to the air from the branches in a matter of seconds. We had stumbled upon them by chance as we walked the grounds of Hasting’s Leduc Historic Estates and were totally unaware of them until it happened. I was hanging out with Park High School senior, Mallory, and her mom for her senior portraits. She had stepped back into the woods and all of a sudden found herself surrounded by them.
Danielle Olson // Park High School Senior Portraits // Little Log House Pioneer Village // Cottage Grove Portrait Photographers
Meet Danielle, a Park High School senior, gymnast, and all-around-inside-and-out, beautiful girl! Danielle, her mom, and I got to spend some time together a few weeks ago walking around the amazing grounds of the Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings, Minnesota for her senior portraits.
What do you get when you mix busy boys and photos? A fun-loving adventure of picking crab apples, licking lollypops, and just being kids. Getting to hang out again with the Hobbs family and their two precious boys is such a privilege! We visited Hastings’ Leduc Historic Estates and even though the main building was under construction, we still found plenty of spots to keep us occupied.
It’s not every day that you get to hang out with a family outdoors to take their photos… but it’s even rarer when that family all are amazing musicians! We love whenever we get a chance to spend time with the Alzen Family Band. We first met them almost ____ years ago and our first session was in the middle of winter and about 90 degrees colder (we’re talking in the negatives here). We still remember seeing them get out of the vehicles with their instruments and being like, “Lord, help nothing to get affected by these cold temps!” Thankfully since then, we’ve chosen warmer weather!
It wasn’t the typical first look. Instead of being a private affair between just the bride and groom, the entire bridal party huddled from above in one small doorway and a few windows of the barn at Goodtree Farmstead in Northfield, Minnesota. The excitement and anticipation was visible over Keaton’s entire face while Sam calmly stood behind him waiting for further directions. As she walked towards him, the bridesmaids couldn’t help but giggle with pure delight! These two and their journey had finally brought them to their wedding day. Finally, it was the moment, Keaton turned to see his bride and his anticipation turned into joy. His beautiful bride was standing in front of him and for a moment, he forgot about the husband and wife wedding photographers, the bridal party, and the busyness of the day and stepped forward to kiss his bride, take in her beauty, and then pick up her hand to his lips, giving her a soft kiss.